Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi is expected to start for Barcelona against Athletic Bilbao Getty Images

Barcelona return to action after the winter break with a Copa del Rey round-of-16 first-leg clash against Athletic Bilbao at San Mames on 5 January.

Where to watch

Kick-off is set for 8.15pm GMT. The game is not scheduled for live broadcast in the UK.


Athletic Bilbao reached the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey by beating Racing Santander 5-1 over two legs in December. The Basque club have lost their last five head-to-head encounters with Barcelona in all competitions.

Oscar de Marcos, Ager Aketxe and Yeray Alvarez are all out injured for the hosts, but Benat Etxebarria has recovered from a muscle injury and is available to play.

Barcelona beat Athletic 5-2 in the quarter-finals of last season's Copa del Rey en route to winning the cup by beating Sevilla in the final in Madrid. The Catalan giants have won their last four games in all competitions at an aggregate score of 18-1.

Goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen will miss the trip to San Mames due to a leg injury.

What managers say

Ernesto Valverde: "[Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar] are dangerous even if they are on vacation, even if they come back only on Thursday morning. They are great players who can decide matches in an instant." [via Marca]

Luis Enrique: "I have no doubt that I'm at the best team, with the best club, with the best players, in my house and with my family, winning things and being very involved. But there is also one thing about this job that is very hard, it costs me a lot and it's a negative that I have to factor in when considering the next few seasons. I am aware that I am either here [with Barcelona] or nowhere. I have time and the club will stand by me." [via ESPN]

Form guide

  • Athletic Bilbao (all competitions): WWLDW
  • Last result: Athletic Bilbao 3-0 Racing Santander (Copa del Rey)
  • Barcelona (all competitions): WWWWD
  • Last result: Barcelona 7-0 Hercules (Copa del Rey)

Betting odds (Betfair)

  • Athletic Bilbao win: 9/2
  • Draw: 14/5
  • Barcelona win: 8/13

Team news

Atheltic Bilbao possible XI: Iraizoz; Lekue, San Jose, Boveda, Balenziaga; Benat, Rico; Williams, Garcia, Muniain; Aduriz

Barcelona possible XI: Ter Stegen; Vidal, Pique, Umtiti, Digne; Rakitic, Busquets, Gomes; Messi, Suarez, Neymar